Los Angeles - The murder conviction of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez has cast another shadow over the image of the National Football League after a year of lurid headlines involving prominent players.
A look back at some of the most notorious criminal cases involving NFL stars past and present.
Aaron Hernandez appeared to have the world at his feet in 2013 after signing a five-year, $40 million contract with the New England Patriots.
But the 25-year-old's burgeoning career masked a darker side, with the tight end unable to shake a fascination with gun and gang culture.
He was sentenced to life without parole after being convicted of the execution-style slaying of 27-year-old semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.
He also faces murder charges for the drive-by shooting of two men in Boston in 2012.
The two-time Super Bowl-winning Baltimore Ravens linebacker was charged with murder along with two friends following an altercation in Atlanta in 2000 which left two people stabbed to death.
The charges against Lewis were dropped when he agreed to a plea deal, admitting charges of obstruction of justice.
For many though, the incident will forever tarnish Lewis's legacy. A white suit he was wearing on the night of the killings was never found, with prosecutors alleging it had been stuffed into a garbage bin.
Blood from one of the murdered men was found inside Lewis's limousine.
The former Carolina Panthers wide receiver was just embarking on a promising NFL career in the late 1990s when was charged with conspiracy to murder, ultimately leading to his 2001 conviction.
Carruth was found guilty of paying a friend to murder a real estate agent he had been dating who was pregnant with his child.
The woman, Cherica Adams, was shot four times and died in hospital; her child survived but suffered permanent brain damage.
Vick was one of the most prominent young stars in the NFL after being chosen in the 2001 draft by the Atlanta Falcons, his all-action style making him a fan favorite.
Yet Vick's career was derailed when in 2007 he pleaded guilty to running a dog-fighting ring which involved horrific cruelty.
He was later jailed and ordered to pay back millions in signing bonuses.
He began to rebuild his career after leaving prison, signing with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009 before joining the New York Jets.
The Super Bowl-winning safety enjoyed 14 seasons in the NFL, starring for the New Orleans Saints in their 2009-2010 championship-winning team before heading into retirement.
Picked five times for the Pro Bowl, Sharper was also included in the NFL's 2000s All-Decade Team after a career which saw spells with the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings.
But in 2014 he was arrested in Los Angeles, accused of being a serial rapist. Further allegations followed in Arizona, Nevada and Louisiana, with a string of women alleging he had drugged them and sexually assaulted them after meeting him in bars and nightclubs.
He faces up to 20 years in prison.
Though he never won the Super Bowl with Buffalo (1969-1977) or San Francisco (1978-1979), Simpson is considered one of the best players of the 1970s.
Once he retired, Simpson started a second career as a Hollywood actor and television pitchman. On June 12, 1994, his second wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and a friend of hers, Ronald Goldman, were found dead outside her condominium.
He was shown on live television fleeing authorities in a famous chase; Simpson was tried for the murders and acquitted in the criminal trial. He was then later convicted by a jury in a wrongful death civil trial.
Separately, Simpson was found guilty of several felonies in Las Vegas in 2008; he is still serving time in Nevada.